January 13, 2021 at 11:11 am EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Biden nominates Samantha Power to lead USAID
Samantha Power, HRC Equality Convention, gay news, Washington Blade
Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power speaks at a Human Rights Campaign conference in D.C. on March 12, 2016. She has been nominated to run the U.S. Agency for International Development. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

President-elect Biden on Wednesday announced he has nominated Samantha Power to lead the U.S. Agency for International Development.

“Samantha Power is a world-renowned voice of conscience and moral clarity — challenging and rallying the international community to stand up for the dignity and humanity of all people,” said Biden in a press release his transition team released. “I know firsthand the unparalleled knowledge and tireless commitment to principled American engagement she brings to the table, and her expertise and perspective will be essential as our country reasserts its role as a leader on the world stage.”

Biden added that Power, who was the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. during the Obama administration’s second term, “will be a powerful force for lifting up the vulnerable, ushering in a new era of human progress and development, and advancing American interests globally.”

“As a journalist, activist and diplomat, I’ve seen the world-changing impact of USAID,” tweeted Power on Wednesday. “At this critical moment, I feel immensely fortunate to have the chance to serve again, working with the incredible USAID team to confront COVID-19, climate change, humanitarian crises and more.”

Power, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author who also worked at the National Security Council during the Obama administration, championed LGBTQ rights during her ambassadorship.

The U.S. in 2015 co-hosted the first-ever U.N. Security Council meeting on an LGBTQ-specific issue that focused on the so-called Islamic State’s persecution of LGBTQ Syrians and Iraqis. The U.S., among other things, during Power’s ambassadorship backed the creation of the U.N.’s first-ever independent expert on LGBTQ issues the U.N. Human Rights Council approved in 2016.

Power last month participated in the formal launch of a Human Rights Campaign and Tent Partnership for Refugees initiative that seeks to provides more than 1,200 LGBTQ refugees with mentorships at nearly two dozen companies in North America.

“People are suffering terribly around the world simply because of who they love and who they are,” Power told the Washington Blade during a 2017 interview before President Trump took office. “Their own horizons are bounded. Their own travel plans are constricted because these rights are violated so blatantly and so brutally around the world.”

The incoming administration has said it will “significantly bolster the offices” at the State Department and USAID that are “dedicated to promoting global LGBTQ+ rights and development.” This pledge is part of its overall promise to champion LGBTQ rights.

“We are absolutely delighted to see Samantha Power’s nomination for USAID,” Council for Global Equality Chair Mark Bromley told the Blade on Wednesday. “She brings deep experience and political weight to the position. She also understands the importance of a human rights approach to development and has been a strong supporter of LGBTI rights at the U.N. and beyond.”

“After the last four years, we need someone who can reinvigorate our development programs, particularly in the face of COVID and a global economic depression,” he added.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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